The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

01 May The Paris Wife by Paula McLain


The Paris Wife

The Paris Wife

By Paula McLain


Set in post WWI, readers are vividly transported to the smoky, sexy, boisterous and boozy Paris of the 1920’s; an alluring place for the poignant—though ultimately heartbreaking—love between Ernest Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley Richardson.


McLain’s impeccable research draws heavily from Hemingway’s own account of this time pivotal time in his life, A Moveable Feast. Her book is an attempt to tell the story from Hadley Richardson’s perspective.


Hadley is a quiet, contemplative, bright woman. Ever faithful, she is a devoted wife, annoyingly tolerant of Hemingway’s wild mood swings and self-absorbed artist’s struggle. She bravely follows him to Paris (on her trust fund) so that he may immerse himself in his work. The couple fall in love with the city and the bohemian collection of affluent artists they befriend, including Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound and F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald.


But the sultry city simmers with sweet temptations, including beautiful and fashionable people, hard liquor and fast jazz, late night parties, and some risqué relationships.


Beautifully written, the author does an impressive job of weaving research into fictional flow and we learn a great deal about the early years of Hemingway. While he was widely known as an egotistical and philandering man, McLain digs deeper, showing a tender side of the original bad boy of literature and drawing empathy from the reader as Hemingway ultimately goes on to have three more wives and finally commits suicide in his early 60’s. Hadley, on the other hand…well, I won’t ruin the book!


 3.75/ 5 Cheers!